Civics Lesson Plan: US Presidential Election

Hello colleagues, One of the most popular lessons in my classes has been an Electoral College Project. I can hear some of you asking, "Really?!" And my response is "Yes! Really!" We all know that the US President is determined by the results of the Electoral College rather than by the popular vote totals. Since other countries' elections are determined by the popular vote, our system is surprising and even quite confusing for many newcomers. 

We typically talk about the results of the presidential election in terms of "red states" and "blue states." While viewing the results of the election on election night, we see a US map and states turning either red or blue depending on which candidate won the state. I wanted the students in my classes to understand what these red and blue state designations results mean for the outcome of the presidential election.

In the Electoral College Project in my classes, students work in teams of 2-3 and are assigned a set of 8-10 states (depending on how many students are in the class) to search online for data. I provide them with a handout as well as list of websites to complete a scavenger hunt to locate information, including:

  • state abbreviation
  • region where the state is located
  • population of the state
  • number of US representatives
  • # of electors in the state
  • red or blue in previous election
  • red or blue in current election (We fill in this column as a whole class after the election is over.)

The students then present their information to the rest of the class while their classmates fill in the information on their own handout.  I've done this lesson with learners at the beginning level who have quite limited English skills with success.

If you'd like to try out this lesson between now and November, you can find the updated handouts I created below. Please feel free to adapt these resources to make them your own! If you have any questions, let me know here in our community.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition Group


I am also looking at how to incorporate civics into summer and fall lessons right now. In 2016, there was some good-natured grumbling about why the electoral college was important and then... a real-life example of why.

Hi, Susan,

Thanks for all the many helpful insights and resources you share--including this wonderful set of resources for learning and teaching about the electoral college!  I will review and share these with colleagues!  


Happy Summer!




I got a "Page not found" message when I clicked on the links. Hmmm...